Most of the readers will likely remember being involved in situations where some sort of serious accident has occurred which involved a dear loved one. Or perhaps it was a sickness or a heart attack or a stroke. Maybe you followed the ambulance to the hospital, and in the waiting room, you anxiously awaited a report of the condition of the loved one. You may have spent anxious moments at the hospital waiting for word from the doctors. Or you may have stayed in the ICU room day after day hoping your loved one would completely recover.
Scene One: Let us imagine an automobile accident in which a husband and wife are involved. Let us say that the accident was terrible, but that somehow though the husband was severely injured, the wife experienced only minor injuries. For days the husband lingers near death, but the wife is prayerful and hopeful and remains at his side or at least close at hand. But finally, the doctor brings to her the sad message: “He didn’t make it.” Oh the crying, the loss, the horrible, horrible sorrow that fills the heart of the mate now left behind! Most of us can identify with such an event which produces so much heartache in the souls of those who must now carry on. We soothe ourselves in the sacred promises of a most loving God who knows all and who has told us that in every situation, we simply must trust him (Prov. 3:5, 6). The word has to be circulated, and other kinfolk and acquaintances are informed of that sobering truth: “He didn’t make it.”
Scene Two: But now in our imagined scenario, we see the recently departed husband in Hades, the realm of the dead. By the grace of God, he has arrived in Paradise where the righteous dead go to await the end of the world and the resurrection (Luke 16:19-31; 23:43; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). The angels have carried him to a section of that domain where those he knows are waiting. He immediately recognizes some of his kinfolk who preceded him in death, some having died just a few weeks ago. Also, he sees members of his own congregation, some who died years ago. My, what greetings! The conversation is lively and wonderful as memories are evoked in the hearts of all as they ponder days gone by back on the earth. He sees some who now look so good, and he remembers how they looked in the midst of malady during their last days on the earth. What an improvement! Everyone is healthy in mind and body. There is no disease, no surgery scars, and no painful facial expressions. There is nothing that would indicate problem or distress in any form.
After the initial welcome and the first words of joy expressed by those who are so very glad to see him finally once again, he begins to express himself as to his impression of his new habitation. “I knew from what the Bible said that Paradise would be a wonderful place. But I could not in my wildest imaginations ever have pictured exactly the feeling of satisfaction, peace, and joy that I now do,” he explains.
One of his relatives asks him how it is that he, not yet an old man, got to come to Paradise when he did. So, he begins to explain about the car wreck. He can’t relate very many of the details of the accident because he simply doesn’t remember much about what really happened. He must have lost consciousness at the moment of impact. He does, however, barely remember hearing voices at some point. Maybe it was while he was still in the car or maybe in the ambulance or maybe even in the hospital. People seemed to be discussing his condition. Some were hopeful; others not. Frank statements were made. By whom he’s not sure. But he does remember that someone, a woman, seemed to be softly praying. The words were said very close to his ear. She must have been bent over him, and he remembers that the prayer was so sincere, so desperate, and he now recalls that though he can’t remember most of the prayer, he does remember the final words. The voice trembled, as the woman cried: “Let thy will be done.”
Just then at that point of his account, a kinsman who knew him and his wife very well back on the earth, upon hearing about a woman praying near him, suggests to his recently arrived kinsman that the voice must have been that of his wonderful wife. He asks whether or not she was in the car when the accident occurred. “Yes, she was,” he remembers. “Was she hurt?” “Yes, she was,” he recalls. He begins to reflect upon those moments just prior to his bodily release, and he remembers briefly seeing his wife in an ever so temporary moment of consciousness. She was battered and bruised, but she did not look seriously hurt at all. He ponders the thought: she lived; I died. “Is she here somewhere?” his kinsman inquires. And as he looks out on the faces of those waiting for his response, he replies, “No, she didn’t make it.”